Reasons Why Sintering Metals is More Economical than Machining

October 16, 2018

Let’s match two manufacturing giants, toe-to-toe and kilo for kilo. On one side, there’s the machining industry. It’s not going anywhere, but there are certainly times when this sector could benefit from a few process-oriented refinements. As for the competitor, this is a heavyweight. Sintering technology is, by its very nature, a refined and economical manufacturing technique. Here, check out the two standards in action.

Repeatable and Economical Sintering 

A workpiece is moving through the sintering equipment. There are dies and compacting assemblies at work, which are introducing pressure and heat into the process. Every component looks identical, so repeatability is assured. In manufacturing plants and production lines, that process constraint is prized above just about every other procedural coefficient, right? Anyway, on popping over to the machining floor, things are proceeding nicely. Only, a saw blade is blunt. A drill bit is also fractured or moving irregularly. Even the extrusion machinery is faltering. Okay, this is an unlikely scenario, but any one of these faults could occur. The point is this: machining solutions don’t always produce consistent results.

Quench Hardened Equivalents 

Downtime issues aside, there’s another reason why sintering metals beat out their machined counterparts. In the post-production stage, the newly formed workpieces aren’t hardened. A second post-production phase is ordered, one that case hardens the product line. In the sintering process, the same workpieces are already heated and compacted, and it’s not difficult to use that thermal energy as a sinter hardening mechanism. Compare that process benefit with the separate heat treatment operation used on the machined components. It costs more to use a secondary heat treatment operation, and those costs are exacted in terms of money and time. Oftentimes, sintering metals are heat treated on the spot, simply by manipulating the thermal energy that initially aided the compaction stage.

Sidestepping Multi-level Tooling 

Intricate tool heads and forming instruments require special multi-plane mechanisms, which operate orbitally. The machines are incredibly precise, but they’re also incredibly expensive. However, to meet certain geometrically ordained product specifications, those 5 and 6-axis machines are essential. In the sintering equipment, such high-tolerance dimensional specs are part-and-parcel of the job. Incidentally, even if the CNC machined parts are dimensionally accurate, that post-production heat treatment stage could change those dimensions, just finitely, which is more than enough to void the operation in many detail-oriented engineering facilities.

Economical by design, sintering metals discharge consistently from high-volume production lines. Should heat treatment work be process-integral, the operation can be added to the cooling phase, right where the heating and compaction work takes place. Machining facilities, although fast and accurate, can’t match this feature. After the machine work is complete, a whole other job is required to harden and otherwise treat the machined parts.


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